Well it’s bulls and blood, it’s dust and mud
It’s the roar of a Sunday crowd, it’s the white in his knuckles
The gold in the buckle he’ll win the next go ’round
It’s boots and chaps, it’s cowboy hats
It’s spurs and latigo, it’s the ropes and the reins
And the joy and the pain and they call the thing rodeo
Growing up in Houston, the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo (HLSR) has always been a substantial and influential part of my life. Many of my greatest memories, both in childhood and adulthood, revolve around not only the rodeo itself but also the many events and attractions that draw millions each and every year. HLSR is one of the largest live entertainment and livestock exhibitions in the world, along with one of the richest rodeo events. There’s always something for everyone at Rodeo Houston!
Traditional trail rides kick off the HLSR festivities. These trail rides start in different parts of Texas, Mexico, and Louisiana. It’s often interesting to look up the trail rides and see how many miles each of them ride – one of the longest is the Los Vaqueros Rio Grande Trail Ride which rides 386 miles from Hidalgo, Texas. These riders end at Memorial Park the Friday before the rodeo begins. The City of Houston celebrates this event with Go Texan Day, where residents are encouraged to dress in western wear. There’s nothing quite like being stuck in traffic to allow horses and wagons to pass on a Friday afternoon in Houston!
Volunteers make up a large part of Rodeo Houston. To date, there are over 32,000 volunteers serving on more than 100 different committees. Rodeo Houston’s main objective is to support the education of the youth of Texas. We volunteer our time so that Rodeo Houston can make an extraordinary impact on the lives of our youth. Since the show began in 1932, more than $400 million has been committed to the youth of Texas. In everything that we do as volunteers, we are raising money so that those who might not otherwise have the means to attend college can live that dream. In 2016, the show has made an educational commitment of over $25 million to the youth of Texas. Rodeo Houston exemplifies Daniel Stark, P.C.’s core value of “Be Remarkable!”
For the past twelve years I have had the privilege of volunteering on the HLSR Parade Committee. The parade is held the Saturday morning after the trail riders have arrived in Houston. Decorative floats, marching bands, and thousands of men and women on horseback intermingle to fill the streets of downtown Houston. This year there were over 115 different groups participating in the parade, including the Fightin’ Texas Aggie Band (Whoop!). I am always behind the scenes – making sure participants with their horses and wagons are safely parked and unloaded in downtown Houston, escorting dignitaries to their horses before the parade, marshaling the streets so that the parade is safe for everyone, and the list goes on! It is always such a joy and pleasure to volunteer my time to Rodeo Houston – and to watch the parade every year with a front row seat to boot!
Since I have been a part of HLSR for as long as I can remember, it was only a matter of time before I became a volunteer. As a kid I remember doing my homework every night of rodeo under the lights of the Astrodome, the Eighth Wonder of the World. I also had many experiences riding in the Grand Entry, which is like a parade around the arena before the rodeo starts every night. However, my most favorite memory of all is every single time I was able to see George Strait perform after the rodeo. At the end of his performance he would get on his horse and ride around the arena, shaking hands with his fans. Before riding out, he would always toss his hat into the crowd. I was always so close to being able to catch his hat, but never close enough!
Aside from the trail rides and parade, there is the World’s Championship BBQ Contest (known as “the cookoff”), rodeo action, livestock competitions, ranch rodeos, concerts, carnival, pig racing, Rodeo Uncorked! International Wine Competition, shopping, livestock auctions, and the fan favorite mutton bustin’! Rodeo Houston is in full swing now until March 20th. If you’ve never been to Rodeo Houston, I encourage everyone to go at least once in their lifetime for an experience you won’t find elsewhere and never forget.
Spur ’em on down to the next one!
by Kristin Farrack